Health issues you can get rid of by losing weightMonday, May 03, 2021
MANY of us don't consider ourselves to be overweight. Sure, we may have a few love handles here and there, and climbing stairs is becoming more and more challenging, but surely that can be chalked up to old age, right?
Not exactly. You do not need to be morbidly obese for your weight to negatively impact your quality of life. Doctor of internal medicine, Dr Samantha Nicholson-Spence, explains that the more weight you gain, the more pressure you put on each of your organ systems, making it more difficult for them to carry out their functions. As such, she says you might experience a wide range of illnesses that are either caused or exacerbated by excess weight. Some of them might be obvious, but others might not seem to be directly linked to your size.
Dr Nicholson-Spence outlines some of the conditions that you might be able to reverse by getting in shape.
The doctor explains that because increased body weight puts strain on the weight-bearing joints such as the spine and knees, then you will find arthritis affecting those areas. Dr Nicholson-Spence points out that losing weight takes some of the pressure off these areas, and with that will come a reduction in the severity of the symptoms.
“If your diabetes came with obesity, and you've lost weight, you can reverse it. You can even lose the diabetes before you get back to your original weight, depending on how severe it was,” she says. “We find that bariatric surgery has been pretty phenomenal in how it cures diabetes in some patients, even before they lose a lot of weight.”
Dr Nicholson-Spence notes that fat is not just lying around in the body doing nothing — it's producing chemicals. These chemicals can make it difficult for a woman to get pregnant. “It causes oestrogen levels to become high, which can block fertility. You might have difficulty getting pregnant, or have a more difficult pregnancy because of obesity.”
“You can also reverse hypertension,” the doctor said. Weight loss has proven to be very effective in returning the blood pressure to a healthy level, as it tends to decrease with your weight.
“Sleep apnoea is associated with excess weight, as the airways become compromised when you fall asleep,” the internist points out. “Losing even a fraction of excess weight can cause significant improvements in this condition.”
Dr Nicholson-Spence explains that adult lungs do not expand beyond a certain point, regardless of how big the rest of the body gets — in fact, they shrink over time. “If you reduce the amount of work that your lungs have to do, then you can improve your respiratory conditions,” she says. “You may not necessarily achieve cure, but you may get to a point where your symptoms have improved so much that you don't even remember you have that condition.”
Unlike the lungs, the muscular heart can and will expand and work harder to keep up with increased weight… but this rapid expansion is not good for it. “So if you already have heart disease — heart failure and so on — your condition may improve with weight loss.
For many people, excess weight and many mental health issues such as depression, insomnia, anxiety, and body dysmorphia go hand in hand. Research shows that obese adults are more likely to suffer from depression than those who are not. “We take some little things for granted with average body weight, like going out to eat ice cream,” Dr Nicholson-Spence said. “But if you're 400 pounds and going out to eat, it will feel like everyone is watching you and your plate. People can become progressively depressed and socially withdrawn, and it's difficult to combat.”
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